Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

There are two different types of sleep apnea: central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. When someone is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, it means that their airway is being blocked by their tonsils or tissues in the back of their throat. When this blockage occurs, they are no longer able to breathe. Their body will soon begin to gasp for air, and the breathing will eventually resume, many times with a sharp jerk or a loud enough gasp to wake those nearby.

When someone is diagnosed with central sleep apnea, it means they are not experiencing any type of issues with their airway being blocked. Instead, their brain does not send the proper signal to the muscles to breathe. This sleeping disorder is directly connected to the central nervous system, which is why it is called central sleep apnea.

Obstructive vs. central

Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common and serious sleeping disorder that causes people to stop breathing for certain periods of time while they are sleeping. This can last only for a few seconds or up to a full minute, which means that the brain and body are deprived of oxygen during these times. Because everyone is different, some people may stop breathing only a few times while others may stop breathing hundreds of times.

Who is at risk for receiving a sleep apnea diagnosis?

Men are more at risk for getting sleep apnea than women. Those who are overweight are also at a higher risk of developing or being diagnosed with a sleep apnea disorder. Other factors that put people at a higher risk include being over the age of 50, having a very large neck, a very small airway, jaw misalignment problems, an overbite, nasal obstructions and any other structural abnormalities that can get in the way of one being able to breathe when sleeping at night.

What are the signs associated with a sleep apnea diagnosis?

One of the most common signs found in people diagnosed with sleep apnea is snoring. Because snoring is quite common, albeit still abormal, it is necessary to understand the other signs associated with sleep apnea.

  • Feeling tired during the day even after being in bed for the entire night
  • Waking up often during the night, a.k.a. restless sleeping
  • Waking up often with a feeling of not being able to breathe
  • Waking up the next morning with a headache and not knowing why
  • Experiencing a very dry mouth or even a sore throat the next morning
  • Experiencing difficulty when it comes to focusing
  • Experiencing difficulty when it comes to remembering things
  • Experiencing various forms of anxiety
  • Experiencing various forms of depression

How is it sleep apnea treated?

For those who are only experiencing a mild case of sleep apnea, treatment options will often include making appropriate lifestyle changes, like losing weight and stopping smoking. If lifestyle changes do not allow for improvements, then options for treating moderate sleep apnea and severe sleep apnea should be explored.

Common treatment options for sleep apnea include:

  • Using a CPAP machine, also known as a continuous positive airway pressure machine
  • Using one of the dental appliances available specifically created to address this disorder
  • Using surgery to remove extra tissue, shrink tissue, reposition the jaw, stimulate the nerves or even create a new airway

Need to make an appointment?

If you would like more information about sleep apnea, then simply call us right now to make an appointment. During the appointment, you can ask one of our caring dentists all the questions you have about this serious sleeping disorder. Whether it is you or someone you love who is potentially suffering from sleep apnea, it is essential that you seek professional advice as soon as possible. Only when you receive an official sleep apnea diagnosis can you find a solution that will work for you.

Call (818) 473-1134 today to reach John M. Chaves, DDS.

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